We left the cold weather for Phoenix on Nov 7th, 2010 starting what would be a set of adventures down south. The reason for the journey? A business trip to the 2010 STAFDA (Specialty Tools and Fasteners Distributors Association) tradeshow to represent Blue Link Associates Ltd.
The tradeshow itself was gargantuan, with what must have been thousands of attendees and hundreds of exhibitors. Overall it was a success with Genevieve Woo and myself having the opportunity to chat with a number of prospects and making some friends along the way.
That is the end of that story as the majority of our adventures happened outside of business hours. We learned a lot about the city of Phoenix but here are a few of the main takeaways:
– The downtown is dead and you have to travel far to find things to do
– Finding your way around the city via transit is hit or miss at best
– The people down there are surprisingly very nice but oddly know nothing about their own city
– People openly carry weapons and if you end up on the wrong side of town, you could be in serious danger
Their light rail system that we could not figure out for the life of us. Not to mention that none of the residents new either.
On the first night we got to see all the beauty of the city. Clearly one with heavy roots in art as there were interesting outdoor displays all over the city including a towering wire tornado piece.
After the conference was over a number of the bigger tool manufacturers such as Milwaukee held parties for those attending the conference. The party was held on the hotel terrace with a live band which turned out to be quite the party. The highlight of the night was meeting Cain Velasquez, the new UFC heavy-weight champion of the world.
Throughout the party they were playing football on the bigscreen (I cannot stress how much they are obsessed with football down there) and then played the video of Cain beating Brock Lesnar in a controversial and completely unexpected victory.
It was unfortunate to discover that Cain lacked a personality and seemed to really hate signing autographs and meeting fans but perhaps you was just tired and out of it.
Once we finally found the nightlife it was phenomenal! We ended up in Tempe an area of Phoenix where the main campus of ASU sits. By one bartenders account there are over 60,000 students in the area (turns out their are actually over 70,000). Enough students to make their Monday nights look like our Fridays.
The bar we went to was called School of Rock which was like nothing I had seen before. Beer was $1, the bartender was doing bar tricks and the female bartender was, well . . . wearing essentially nothing. Surely they were both making phenomenal tips.
The bar was complete with pole-dancing girls (not strippers, just the regular bar crowd) and some of the best mix of music I have ever heard at a club. All that combined with the cheap alcohol made it one hell of an experience.
We went with local exotic food whenever we could getting our fair share of south-western. The highlight meal was a platter consisting of snake, cactus, buffalo, and trout spread:
Only problem was, the cactus made me brutally ill to the point where I wonder if I have an allergy to it. Future cactus eaters, you have been warned
Our adventures through Arizona led us to Sedona, a nearby tourist town surrounded by mountains where we had a guide show us around. His name was Mike and I believe the company was Southwest Tours. I highly recommend that if you are in the area that you give him a shot. He knew everything about everything. We also had a great crew along with us on the tour. The only problem was one of the Singaporean women who proceeded to vomit non-stop throughout the tour.
As part of the tour we did some hiking along the mountain trail and came some of the wildlife as well as a stream that ran through the mountains
Near the end of the tour we were taken up to the peak of one of the nearby mountains that overlooked the city. Needless to say, the view was second-to-none.